Early Sexual Onset and Its Influence on Later Delinquency

Stacy Armour, The Ohio State University
Dana L. Haynie, The Ohio State University

Prior research on adolescent sexual initiation focuses primarily on how various behaviors lead to, or are antecents of, early sexual onset. Although many factors have been linked to early sexual debut, littel research has examined whether early sexual initiation is linked to a range of later outcomes. This is surprising since developmental and life course theories emphasize the importance of timing for the progression of individuals through age-graded life events. Of primary interest, the literature demonstrates that sexual debut is an important age-graded life event for adolescents, and we argue that if the transition to non-virgin status is made "off-time," it can have negative consequences for youth, including initiating or eascalating delinquency. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study examines the interconnections between sexual debut and the differential effects early sexual activity can have on boys' and girls' involvement in delinquency.

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Updated 05/20/2006